THE QUINTESSENTIAL “INDIAN SME PIGEON”
““thoda adjust karo” “Thoda adjust karo” accommodate… accommodate… finally, @ least we don’t have to accommodate and adjust our underwear””…. Thus goes an ad on the Indian TV…. it might be successful in selling the underwear, but won’t possibly resurrect the great Indian spirit of entrepreneurship, exemplified very well in the markets, globally, but so very rare in India.
WE ACCOMODATE EVERYDAY… SPECIALLY, WHEN WE GET INTO ASSOCIATIONS.. PARTNERSHIPS… JOINT VENTURES… ENTREPRENEUR MODE… However much of English that we speak (enough to land us a BPO job, but not enough to liberate us from the shacked of “adjust karo”)
Why do we remain SMEs for such a long time? Can we discuss modern practices? Are tools even discussed ever? Are we perennially “adjust karo? Are we accommodating each other most time (idiosyncrasies and myopic behaviour most times). Do the wives, husbands and families influencing without an iota of know how? Have we missed the global bus—excepting the BPO business where we offered the value of cost savings first, then quality?
A common observation with a majority of small start ups… the variety of entrepreneurial ventures which do not catch the eye of the organized PE funding world. Necessarily, this is the largest chunk that contributes to our GDP and the growth of business in the country.
There are three things in common which I have observed in these start-ups.
a) Promoters are mostly friends or ex-colleagues
b) They have a common dream – NOT A COMMON VISION
c) Most do not have enough resources to stay afloat beyond the first 6 months.
All my observations here, negative in nature (might be) are a reflection of my observation of this target audience within the first year of being together. Their fast tracked change of behaviour is what I call the “Quintessential SME pigeon mindset”.
Quintessential because it is repetitive…. business after business goes through this cycle, without being influenced by the earlier failures of peers.
Now, what exactly is this cyclical ‘SME pigeon’? Like the old Indian saying, the pigeon shuts its eyes closed the moment it sees the cat around – assuming that since it cannot see the cat, even the cat cannot see it. The other example is from the Punjabi fables… the most riled bird called “Ghuggu”… which keeps staring into the headlamp of an approaching vehicle, and ultimately gets crushed under the wheels.
Both the above examples are typical of the (mis) management approach of many an SME entrepreneurial start-ups, wherein the approaching problems are seen, but ignored.
Is it because of optimism? Is it because of the lack of vision? Is it the lack of experience? Is it a product of wrong timing? I presume it is because of the “Adjust karo” mentality !!!! It is a factor of accommodating the wrong decisions of fellow promoters. It is for the reason that promoters accommodate each other and don’t ask the difficult questions, internally. It is for the reason that promoters don’t acquire knowledge and apply to their own business. It is because the promoter are like the pigeon which thinks that shutting the eye would avert the disaster.
One training programme I attended long back had an interesting statistic revealed. The trainer mentioned that “97% of the partnerships in business break up within the first 3-5 years.”
Isn’t that number amazing & staggering? How come it is still 97%? Isn’t that indication that the new wave of entrepreneurs still haven’t learnt from the mistakes of their immediate past peers?
The common thread in most of the above failure is that the partners / promoters / managers accommodated each other, rather than the business vision. Each one gave in to the temptation of not broaching the topic lest the other feels bad.
One common observation is that partners avoid bringing up uncomfortable topics within the first 6-12 months of operation. All this while, the grey thoughts are harboured in the mind, leading to fair bit of consternation and frustration over the inactivity of the thought. I have seen partners & promoter seeking a vent for these thoughts outside their core group. That to me, is the first sign of the approaching problem, wherein, one tried to adjust karo, or accommodate the assumption, rather than brainstorm, debate & seek solutions.
Here is my checklist of things to be done.
1) Don’t accommodate. Realize that all promoters / partners have to be the “slaves of the cause, rather than masters of the business”. Essentially, create one vision and continually remind each other on what the end goal is. That also allows one to bring up topics which presumptuously are discomfort.
2) Set up a review schedule – Once a month to assess for oneself on the direction.
3) No holds barred – Open the first meeting with the candidness and welcome note on not feeling bad about thoughts.
4) Sticking together – Remind each other than “we are here for the long haul” and would like to be together when success strikes.
5) Share – Share as much knowledge as possible so that no one member starts to develop a complex, which eventually would lead to that member putting a spoke in the wheel.
6) Discuss the financial troubles – Make sure that it is chatted objectively. The lack of funds / resources more often leads to disenchantment and de-motivating. That is the time to talk to each other on the ‘that day’ being the pain to reach the ultimate goal.
Last, but not the least, if you have got together and have one dream, always take your fellow promoter along. Don’t get overwhelmed and judgemental about the professional thoughts. Unless there are integrity & values conflict, take your partner to be your companion for the journey, as you might walk out of one, but there are no guarantees on how the next one would be.
Yours truly says the above out of experience, not from reading some management books….. Please feel free to contradict me.